You probably have seen them while driving through Texoma farm country plenty of times: Crop dusters diving over a field and releasing their spray.
Whether it’s to eliminate bugs that can devastate crops or to help spread nutrients over a wide area in a more efficient time frame, the plane and pilot are a vital tool for area farmers’ success.
But to add to that success, there’s a gathering in Olney every year that helps these pilots fine tune their delivery.
“The purpose is so they can come and check their spray pattern for their agricultural spray,” said Air Tractor president, Jim Hirsch. “That includes understanding how to properly place the spray nozzles and calibrate the spray system.”
“The pilots bring their airplanes in to a central location,” said WRK of Arkansas president, Dennis Gardisser. “They’re tested and evaluated and tweaked and setup so that they’re doing the best performance to apply pesticides, nutrients and biological agents to help the growers do a better job.”
To collect this data, the pilots fly by the collectors and spray water with a hint of color-dye onto a line of string.
Running this test helps pilots become more efficient in the field.
“We’re looking for two or three things,” Gardisser said. “We’re really looking for a way to make our applications in the field even so that all the field gets the same dosage. We’re looking to get the same droplet size. The techniques will allow us to measure those.”
This data will help pilots mitigate drift and maximize the yield of their spray and, in turn, help farmer’s get the best out of their crop.
“The real beneficiary is the grower or producer that has their services come in to apply something is going to help them produce crops that’s not competing with weeds, not competing with any insects or plant disease,” said Gardisser.
“This GPS technologies, spray calibrations, the automatic flow control…are definitely a big step forward in our industry,” Hirsch adds.
To an industry that hopes this data will take them to new heights.